Handbooks and Policies

Welcome news for employers: companies can require their workers go through arbitration to pursue any legal claims against their employers, rather than go to court or join together in class lawsuits or grievances, the US Supreme Court held today in a 5-4 vote.

Writing for the majority in three consolidated cases (Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis, NLRB v.  Murphy Oil  USA, Inc., and Ernst & Young LLP v. Morris), Justice Neil Gorsuch said the Federal Arbitration Act sets a strong policy favoring the enforcement of arbitration agreements, and employees of the three companies failed to show they had any right to disregard the arbitration agreements they signed.

The policy may be debatable but the law is clear: Congress has instructed that arbitration agreements like those before us must be enforced as written. While Congress is of course always free to amend this judgment, we see nothing suggesting it did so in the NLRA — much less that it manifested a clear intention to displace the Arbitration Act. Because we can easily read Congress’s statutes to work in harmony, that is where our duty lies.

The ruling means the various companies can enforce their class action waiver agreements and their employees will have to pursue their claims in individual arbitration proceedings. Please stay tuned for more to come from us on the actions employers should take now in response to this important decision.

Happy Mother’s Day! 

May 13 is Mother’s Day in the US, Australia and Canada. As such, it feels apropos to recognize the latest initiatives in the US and around the world aimed at increasing opportunities at work for working mothers (and caregivers more generally). Government-mandated maternity, paternity and parental leave and benefits, as well as robust childcare and eldercare infrastructure are among the most effective public policy investments for promoting gender parity in the workforce. As employers strive to retain working parents and increase female representation in corporate leadership roles, this article highlights how parental leave rights and related benefits are changing to reduce the burden of work-family conflicts on women and encourage men (and even grandparents!) to avail themselves of paternity leave and/or parental leave.

While the intended effects of new legislation in this area are of course positive, it can be challenging for US and multinational employers to navigate the patchwork of statutory requirements that offer varying entitlements based on differing circumstances. Even beyond managing simple compliance, many multinational employers also feel the pressure to stay competitive in the war for talent and to create human resources policies that can be managed centrally in a streamlined fashion, while also locally compliant in jurisdictions outside of the US.

Please click HERE to read our article. We focus on recent entitlements and related benefits made available to employees who manage caregiving responsibilities outside of work and share the updates multinationals need to know.

For more details, please contact your Baker McKenzie lawyer.

On April 30, the California Supreme Court issued an opinion radically changing the legal landscape for any company engaging independent contractors in California. Dynamex Operations West Inc. v. The Superior Court of Los Angeles County changes the legal test for determining whether workers should be classified as employees or as independent contractors under California’s wage orders. The Court scrapped the multifactor, flexible test (known as “Borello”) that has been used in California for decades. It adopted the “ABC” test, a standard that has its roots in determination of unemployment tax status in other states and presumes workers are employees instead of independent contractors.

This extraordinary decision will have far-reaching consequences for California companies reliant on independent contractors and likely spur a landslide of litigation for years to come. As such, we are recommending that companies engaging independent contractors in California, in any industry, work with counsel to revisit classification decisions and undertake a cost/benefit analysis of reclassifying workers in the near term.

For more, please read our alert HERE.

  Yesterday we hosted a dynamic panel featuring four of our favorite European colleagues for a breakfast briefing in Palo Alto. Susan Eandi moderated a lively discussion with Nadège Dallais (France), Bernhard Trappehl (Germany), Fermin Guardiola (Spain) and Nicola James (United Kingdom).

Our colleagues gave guests an inside look at sociopolitical trends driving employment law change in each of their respective countries, as well as sharing important updates related to practical issues employers are currently facing.

In case you missed it, here are a few of the headlines:

Continue Reading Takeaways From Our European Employment Law Breakfast Briefing

Last week, a team of Baker McKenzie partners (Andy Boling, Doug Darch, Bill Dugan and Miriam Petrillo) led a lively roundtable in Deerfield, Illinois on the topic of civility in the workplace.

Attorneys from the EEOC (Greg Gochanour, Regional Attorney for Chicago Office) and the NLRB (Paul Hitterman, Regional Attorney for Region 13 of the NLRB) joined us in leading the discussion. Topics included disciplining employees for uncivil workplace behavior, the enforceability of confidentiality restrictions on witnesses during internal investigations and the NLRB’s newly issued test for reviewing employee work rules.

Here, we share a “top 10” list to highlight the principal takeaways from the program.

Continue Reading Top 10 Takeaways For Managing A Diverse Workplace

In the last two weeks, New York state and city legislatures each passed groundbreaking legislation that would require most private employers to provide sexual harassment training to their workforces every year. No other US jurisdiction requires annual harassment training for all employees, making this legislation – if signed into law – the most expansive in the country. (California requires training for supervisors and managers only, see more HERE.)

Continue Reading Mandatory Sexual Harassment Training Comes To New York

Embracing mediation as a way to avoid litigation is not a sure-fire solution as one employer recently learned. See Unite Here Local 30 v. Volume Services, Inc., No. 16-55528 (9th Cir. January 26, 2018). Mediation is often employed as an alternative method of dispute resolution for its perceived advantages over traditional lawsuits (e.g. it can be quicker, less expensive and less formal than a court-driven process). For these reasons and others, many labor unions and employers frequently choose mediation as an alternative to arbitration.

Continue Reading Mediation Agreement In CBA Leads To Litigation

Is your HR team struggling with how to manage a diverse workforce in the #metoo era? Join us and representatives from the EEOC and NLRB for a complimentary seminar on April 12th to discuss the agencies views on these topics and more, including:

  • The Evolving Workplace and Where We Stand With the New Administration
  • The EEOC’s perspective: Sexual Harassment, Mandated Training, Civility Rules and Confidentiality (featuring Greg Gochanour, EEOC Supervising Trial Attorney
  • The NLRB’s Perspective: The New Standard for Evaluating Work Rules and What it Means for Employee Handbooks, Confidentiality and Civility in the Workplace (featuring Paul Hitterman, NLRB Regional Attorney, Region 13)
  • Ethics CLE: Rule 37 (ESI), Spoliation and Litigation Holds

When: 8:30 AM CST – 11AM CST (The seminar kicks off with registration and a networking breakfast, and the program begins at 9AM)

Where: Hyatt Regency Deerfield (1750 Lake Cook Rd., Deerfield, IL 60015)

Click here for more information on the seminar, including featured speakers. To register, click here.

The new data privacy rules are just around the corner…are you ready?

The EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into force May 25, 2018. GDPR introduces stricter requirements and higher penalties for violations, so it is important for companies to review their data privacy compliance not just with respect to customers but with respect to employees.

Join our upcoming webinar to review the new legal landscape under GDPR, discuss the different approaches for dealing with personal data after effectiveness of GDPR and consider the pros and cons of each approach.

Date: April 5, 2018

Time: 11AM – 12PM CST

Click here for more details on the webinar, including featured speakers. Register today to gain an understanding of the new rules and how to tackle them.

It’s no secret that a diverse and inclusive workplace has become critical for success. Clients, investors and talent are increasingly attracted to companies with socially responsible values and progressive workplace polices – with good reason. Diversity and inclusion have been linked to innovation, financial results and employee engagement.

Yet many organizations have long struggled to create impactful diversity and inclusion programs, particularly when it comes to increasing diversity at senior levels. While there is no silver bullet to eliminate bias, you can advance your diversity and inclusion program by making it a core component of your corporate culture and implementing practical strategies to update your initiative.

Click here to read the entire article, originally published on Ethisphere.com.